Scott Richmond, otherwise known as Team Canada's best bullet, left the Rogers Centre last night fit and rested.
He'll be fresh as a spring daisy, watered and cared for by Martha Stewart, for his next start for the Blue Jays whether it be against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland or the Cincinnati Reds at Dunedin.
We're not sure when his next start will be, but it will not be against Venezuela this afternoon at 5:30.
Team Canada went two and out at the World Baseball Classic with a 6-2 loss to Italy last night before a disappointing crowd of 12,411.
On second thought, it was better for Canadian baseball, so few people saw lacklustre hitting and pitching which managed to hold Italy scoreless only four innings and only twice in the first seven.
Canada came to the duel, paced off the 60-feet-6-inches and left with their fastest gun holstered. Richmond was strapped to Canada's right leg securely as if bound by a bonded, moving company.
Richmond is the same arm that Canada was counting on as its ace at the Bejing Olympics. The Jays promoted him, sent him to the bullpen after three so-so starts and demoted him just in time for him to watch the Olympics from triple-A Syracuse.
A competitor, who has battled back from adversity his whole career, including three years after high school working the Vancouver docks, Richmond's most strenuous exercise was shaking hands with Chris Barnwell after starting an inning-ending double play in the sixth and with Justin Morneau after he scored in the fourth.
How does a country/team not use its best?
"It was my decision. I'll take the heat for that," manager Ernie Whitt said. "I felt comfortable that the pitchers that we had lined up, that they could hold Italy in check and we could score a lot of runs.
"In this type format, we knew our back was against the wall. Our mindset was we wanted to go on and obviously we didn't. If anyone's going to take any blame, I'll take the blame."
What if Canada had used Richmond against Italy last night and had won? Would Vince Perkins have beaten Venezuela? The bottom line likely would have been the same -- an exit.
It's like that old sandlot conversations we've heard many times over the years: "Who is pitching the semifinal?"
"Why not your ace?"
"Oh, we're saving him for the final?"
More often than not the team loses and the ace gets into the car for the ride home rested and unused -- like Richmond --when he boards his Tampa-bound flight.
Whitt pointed to the seventh, when Italy added a pair against Steve Green as "taking the wind out of our sails."
"Who is to say, if Scotty Richmond starts, he can throw only 70 pitches any how. It's damned if you do, damned if you don't," Whitt said. "You think you make the right decisions, it comes back and hits you in the face. Like I said, I'll accept that."
This is a big-time upset, moreso than the sixth-ranked Netherlands, in the first set of world baseball rankings, beating 17th-ranked Dominican Republic. Canada was ranked seventh, Italy 13th.
Italy beat Australia 10-0 in 2006 -- but that was in Orlando, not Perth, Australia.
If Canada could not beat Italy, it did not deserve to advance.
Not good enough.
Canada was unable to score against lefty Dan Serafini, who pitched for the Monterrey Sultans in Mexico in 2008, until the fourth.
Chris Cooper, former Cleveland Indians minor leaguer and now of the Montepaschi Grossseto in Italy worked 22/3 and Jason Grilli pitched 31/3 scoreless.
Cubs' no-show Ryan Dempster was booed again when a montage of Canadian major leaguers was shown on the board. Don't blame Dempster for Canadian hitters striking out eight times.
One Canuck hit was a Jason Bay roof shot which shortstop Nick Punto camped under only to have the ball hit the rigging hanging from the roof and fall for an infield hit as Rogers Centre turned into Tropicana Field. The Italian dugout yelled "TILT!" No problem as Matt Stairs popped up. Inning over.
It was an expensive loss, Canada missing out on a $400,000 US pay day.
Expensive and embarrassing.